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View Full Version : 90% of those killed in drone strikes were not the target



Waddie
09-23-2016, 11:52 AM
Drones are anything but "surgical" strikes. They inflict a huge amount of collateral damage; in other words, they kill more people than just terrorists. In fact, most of the deaths they cause have nothing to do with terrorists. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, this is wrong on moral and ethical grounds. We should remember who we are and stop this wanton slaughter.

"The drone’s vaunted capability for pinpoint killing appealed to a president intrigued by a new technology and determined to try to keep the United States out of new quagmires. Aides said Mr. Obama liked the idea of picking off dangerous terrorists a few at a time, without endangering American lives or risking the yearslong bloodshed of conventional war.

“Let’s kill the people who are trying to kill us,” he often told aides.
By most accounts, hundreds of dangerous militants have, indeed, been killed by drones, including some high-ranking Qaeda figures. But for six years, when the heavy cloak of secrecy has occasionally been breached, the results of some strikes have often turned out to be deeply troubling.
Every independent investigation of the strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit. Gradually, it has become clear that when operators in Nevada fire missiles into remote tribal territories on the other side of the world, they often do not know who they are killing, but are making an imperfect best guess......... The proliferating mistakes have given drones a sinister reputation in Pakistan and Yemen and have provoked a powerful anti-American backlash in the Muslim world. Part of the collateral damage in the strikes has been Mr. Obama’s dream of restoring the United States’ reputation with Muslims around the globe."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/world/asia/drone-strikes-reveal-uncomfortable-truth-us-is-often-unsure-about-who-will-die.html


"According to a new report (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/drone-papers_561ed361e4b0c5a1ce61f463?v4w019k9) from The Intercept, nearly 90 percent of people killed in recent drone strikes in Afghanistan “were not the intended targets” of the attacks.

Documents detailing a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker, show that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. In Yemen and Somalia, where the U.S. has far more limited intelligence capabilities to confirm the people killed are the intended targets, the equivalent ratios may well be much worse.

a drone strike in Yemen killed 14 people returning from a wedding. Government officials mistook their vehicles for those of al Qaeda militants. Parents in Pakistan have reported (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-19704981) taking their children out of school to protect them from possible strikes.


While government officials claim the drone strikes are accurate and rarely harm innocent civilians, strikes can kill or injure anyone in the area, even if they are only meant to kill a targeted individual.
“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” the source of the documents told The Intercept. When “a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate. … So it’s a phenomenal gamble.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/civilian-deaths-drone-strikes_us_561fafe2e4b028dd7ea6c4ff

regards,
Waddie

Gib Etheridge
09-23-2016, 01:05 PM
Nothing new, the corporate/mic us government has been the worlds biggest bully since just after WW2, it operates on a war based economy after all. I expect that the US has caused much more suffering and created much more strife than it's alleviated, and that's come home to roost. And now, to add salt to the wound, good old D. Trump, with the potential to oversee 90% of the worlds military.

Which country do you suppose is the most feared and despised, and are any more deserving? Does anyone think it's going to get any better? It would take a benevolent dictatorship to affect any change, or maybe a global boycott of the US, or both, in my opinion, and that's not going to happen. Good luck to us all.

TomF
09-23-2016, 01:14 PM
It's a lot cheaper than killing bad guys pretty much any other way. A drone strike will cost a whole lot less than sending in (and potentially losing) something like helicopter gunships, which would conceivably cause as much collateral damage. A lot less spendy than flying in a SEAL team too, managing their logistics, then getting them out again too. A lot less risk to your own soldiers too.

Like it or not, every state has always made wartime calculations about the value of their own side's lives, the lives of their enemies, and the lives of onlookers. And pretty much every state has always concluded that they needed to value their own soldiers' lives more highly than either of those other groups. Drones are just one contemporary way of expressing a calculation that's been around since the Greeks.

Waddie
09-23-2016, 02:10 PM
TomF; Like it or not, every state has always made wartime calculations about the value of their own side's lives, the lives of their enemies, and the lives of onlookers. And pretty much every state has always concluded that they needed to value their own soldiers' lives more highly than either of those other groups. Drones are just one contemporary way of expressing a calculation that's been around since the Greeks.

That logic is just what's wrong with autonomous drone attacks on "onlookers". We don't value them as human beings, and it's cheaper than any other way of killing. That is indeed a heartless calculation. And one that produces the unintended consequence of creating ever more terrorists. We accuse terrorists of indiscriminately killing our people and curse them for not valuing human life. One cannot fault them for planting bombs here when we are indiscriminately killing their women and children. We do not hold the moral high ground.

regards,
Waddie

Waddie
09-23-2016, 02:37 PM
Nick; We have been killing non-combatants during wars for centuries.

That's your rationale.... really.... Keeps our guys safe while we kill on the cheap. Would you listen to yourself.... Well, we need better training so we wouldn't kill so many innocent people. Maybe we could bring the ratio down from 90% to 50%. Hmmmm, I'm sure those civilians would think that number acceptable. We are fighting terror with terror, Trump style.

History will one day judge Obama harshly on this.

regards,
Waddie

Figment
09-23-2016, 02:43 PM
What percentage of the targets were successfully killed in drone strikes?

TomF
09-23-2016, 02:46 PM
I don't think one can argue seriously that military actions are mostly about holding the moral high ground. There are precious few such actions which would tick the criteria list for a Just War.

Sure, killing non-combatants either by accident or as simply a necessary concomitant of killing your actual target isn't moral. Not moral if you use a bunch of bullets fired by a SEAL team, or by a drone. Not moral if you blow them up with a cruise missile or a roadside bomb either. "Moral" isn't really what using armed force to kill people is about; one accepts that the actual enterprise is immoral, but that you're gonna do it anyway. There's a reason why a lot of people oppose military action on principle.

Given that, the measure of "morality" shifts. It shifts towards conserving your own resources, finding an "acceptable" balance of the risk to your own resources and the damage to your enemy. In that calculation, drones are very much a value-add approach to killing. The additional cost paid by innocent people is a lot less than if you drop bombs onto them from aircraft or missiles, though certainly greater than if you had an assassin do the deed on the ground with a bullet or blade. But the risk to your "operator" is essentially nil. In a budget-tight environment, it's hard for any appropriations committee to vie for a different option in small-scale actions.

CWSmith
09-23-2016, 02:53 PM
I don't like it, but let's look at the facts:

1) We are in a war, like it or not.
2) It is a new kind of war where the combatants hide themselves within the civilian population.
3) We can go in with troops, the enemy disappears, and more civilians get killed.

The choice is: fight the war or don't fight it. I know of no other way to reduce casualties. It isn't pretty. It's ugly as sin. That's what war is.

If anyone has a better idea, a lot of us would love to hear it.

CWSmith
09-23-2016, 02:55 PM
History will one day judge Obama harshly on this.

Then it better d@mn sight judge GWBush even more harshly. It was his incompetence that got us into this mess.

Waddie
09-23-2016, 02:55 PM
TomF; Given that, the measure of "morality" shifts. It shifts towards conserving your own resources, finding an "acceptable" balance of the risk to your own resources and the damage to your enemy. In that calculation, drones are very much a value-add approach to killing. The additional cost paid by innocent people is a lot less than if you drop bombs onto them from aircraft or missiles, though certainly greater than if you had an assassin do the deed on the ground with a bullet or blade. But the risk to your "operator" is essentially nil. In a budget-tight environment, it's hard for any appropriations committee to vie for a different option in small-scale actions.

It's cheaper and safer. I'm sure that is comforting to the many innocent people, including numbers of women and children, who have been killed by drone attacks. Of course, a lone suicide bomber or a bomb stuck in a waste container is a pretty cheap way of striking the enemy, too. And, if the US doesn't represent a higher moral standard, how are we different from the people we label terrorist? We are proud of our soldiers and our military capabilities, but I'm sure they are just as proud of their martyrs and freedom fighters. We are escalating this fight, not them.

regards,
Waddie

Then it better d@mn sight judge GWBush even more harshly. It was his incompetence that got us into this mess. I agree.

TomF
09-23-2016, 03:06 PM
I doubt that anyone in a war zone is feeling especially comforted by the tactics used by any of the combatants. Syrians are leaving Syria at a pretty sprightly rate, and drones aren't the weapons we hear about most in that conflict, eh? By any armed bunch of guys.

Short answer to your other question though ... the US military is less different from the people you intend to shoot than is comfortable to acknowledge. In each case, as MacArthur famously said, the objective is not to die for your country, but make the other guy die for his. For all that rules of engagement are formally quite different among the Western powers than they once were and than they are for some of our present adversaries, we're none of us as removed from the ferocity of it as we'd like to imagine. On a battlefield if someone's shooting at you and you've the option of dying or killing your adversary in some particularly noxious way, you're probably gonna kill him. It's your job.

Most warring groups are proud of their fighters, their heroes. History's littered with their stories. And yeah, killing people is hardly a great way of eliminating a conflict in a permanent way.

Gib Etheridge
09-23-2016, 03:31 PM
If for the last 70 years the US had spent half of what it's spent bullying on building schools, hospitals and generally improving the lot of the less fortunate the world would be a much different place than it is now. Is it too late too start? Is it even possible?

PeterSibley
09-23-2016, 04:24 PM
“Let’s kill the people who are trying to kill us,”

That works both ways of course. The West is breeding enemies faster than we can kill them.

PeterSibley
09-23-2016, 04:32 PM
If for the last 70 years the US had spent half of what it's spent bullying on building schools, hospitals and generally improving the lot of the less fortunate the world would be a much different place than it is now. Is it too late too start? Is it even possible?

The way the Saudi Wahhabis have spent millions building madrasas through out the Muslim world to spread their particular version of Islam? Much too sensible and where is the profit for the MIC? They don't make school books, they make missiles.

LeeG
09-23-2016, 05:12 PM
I don't like it, but let's look at the facts:

1) We are in a war, like it or not.
2) It is a new kind of war where the combatants hide themselves within the civilian population.
3) We can go in with troops, the enemy disappears, and more civilians get killed.

The choice is: fight the war or don't fight it. I know of no other way to reduce casualties. It isn't pretty. It's ugly as sin. That's what war is.

If anyone has a better idea, a lot of us would love to hear it.

I don't think redefining war is a wise path and it's one we have turned onto after 9/11. By making the entire world a war zone and hostilities a never ending project we are creating as many problems as we're trying to defeat.
The choice isn't war or not it's applying adequate force to diminish or remove a threat.
UAVs are a particular platform but they don't define a counterterrorism strategy anymore than invading and conflating Al Qaeda with the Taliban diminished the threat of militant Salafism.

LeeG
09-23-2016, 05:16 PM
The way the Saudi Wahhabis have spent millions building madrasas through out the Muslim world to spread their particular version of Islam? Much too sensible and where is the profit for the MIC? They don't make school books, they make missiles.

And then we sell Saudi Arabia massive amounts of arms they don't have the manpower to utilize. The MIC juggernaut meets its own needs first.

PeterSibley
09-23-2016, 05:17 PM
It's only a war because the MIC needs a war. There is no other reason. Walk away.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/28/Biggest_arms_sales_2013.png/300px-Biggest_arms_sales_2013.png

Paul Pless
09-23-2016, 05:47 PM
Obama sucks

PeterSibley
09-23-2016, 05:57 PM
No new wars at least .

Duncan Gibbs
09-23-2016, 06:02 PM
All war is a human rights abuse.

The sooner we, as a species, determine that war should be outlawed and arms sales are more expensive to us collectively than the pittance by comparison it would take to find cures for most of the major diseases, such a the common cold, the better our planet and all its inhabitants will be.

PeterSibley
09-23-2016, 06:20 PM
and because war is outlawed we will declare war on anyone at war ...

LeeG
09-23-2016, 06:35 PM
Obama sucks

He couldn't control the MIC anymore than Rumsfeld could the Pentagon. The gov't will protect the military industry more than any other industry. Who can say no to billion dollar contracts in their community? We'll spend 100's billions for questionable weapon systems while waiting for vital domestic infrastructure to fail before improving it.

LeeG
09-23-2016, 06:38 PM
Worthwhile book


https://www.amazon.com/How-Everything-Became-War-Military/dp/1476777861/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474673770&sr=1-1&keywords=how+everything+became+war+and+the+militar y+became+everything+tales+from+the+pentagon

Rosa Brooks traces this seismic shift in how America wages war from an unconventional perspective—that of a former top Pentagon official who is the daughter of two anti-war protesters and a human rights activist married to an Army Green Beret. Her experiences lead her to an urgent warning: When the boundaries around war disappear, we risk destroying America’s founding values and the laws and institutions we’ve built—and undermining the international rules and organizations that keep our world from sliding towards chaos. If Russia and China have recently grown bolder in their foreign adventures, it’s no accident; US precedents have paved the way for the increasingly unconstrained use of military power by states around the globe. Meanwhile, we continue to pile new tasks onto the military, making it increasingly ill-prepared for the threats America will face in the years to come.

Waddie
09-23-2016, 07:34 PM
Obama sucks

That isn't fair; but I know it's sarcasm. However, he and Bush are guilty of warmongering. Both supported the MIC. The United States should be the world's humanitarian leader, and often we are. But what we do militarily offsets and discredits all the good will we receive from those humanitarian efforts. I also think that because drones reduce our risk to almost nothing, and they're relatively cheap, we are much more inclined to use them. And use them despite questionable intelligence; which we would not do if American lives were at risk.

Using our military might in this way also means we're taking sides, which we clearly have done, especially in the area of arms sales. In a time when BOTH sides are less than admirable. This policy disqualifies us to be peace arbiters, as no one trusts us in that role. This just serves to intensify and prolong the conflicts, it does not reduce the violence.

I am not an isolationist. I believe we should be engaged in the world, but in a positive way. What we're doing is not positive. For every terrorist we kill two more pop up to take their place. We are NEVER going to win this war by drone attacks. We're kidding ourselves. It has deep historical roots. Remember when success in the Vietnam War was measured in body counts? We are trapped in the same faulty logic once again.

We've wasted the goodwill bestowed upon us by the world after 9/11. Bush and Obama wasted that goodwill. Obama wasted the opportunity afforded by the Nobel Peace Prize.

I think what's happened is that the public wants answers, where there are few answers. Politicians have to look like they're not weak. They have to take some kind of action, even if it's the wrong action. And drones is definitely the wrong action.

regards,
Waddie

LeeG
09-23-2016, 09:32 PM
Just make smaller missiles and bombs.

http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/pyros/

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/raytheons-griffin-mini-missiles-07182/